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Shore anglers line the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Shore anglers line the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The Economics of Assessment

Restoring Nature’s Benefits to People

When habitats and wildlife are injured, people often lose the services these resources provide. Our job is to ensure that the public is compensated when they are unable to enjoy nature’s benefits. Examples of ecosystem services that may be affected by oil spills or hazardous releases include recreation, storm protection, and clean water. Our economists and biological scientists use multiple methods to quantify ecosystem services. We can then assess the full scale of natural resource injuries, charting a path to restoration that will fully compensate the public.

How does NOAA quantify injuries to the environment?

We use information from both natural and social sciences to determine the amount and type of restoration required to compensate the public for natural resource injuries. The economic aspects of an assessment are based on the degree to which ecosystems have been impaired and the consequent reduction in their functions and services. We frequently complement this natural science data with information on recreational uses, such as fishing and beach access, to include impacts to these direct human services in our analyses.

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